Hello Gwen, thank you for talking to The Good Review – are you enjoying the tour of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and what was it like having the break at Christmas between tours?
First of all, I love this play and I love ‘Miss Daisy’ – the tour has been tiring so it will be good to have a rest at the end of it, but I couldn’t turn this part down. It was lovely to have Christmas off but lovely to get back to it again.
Which theatre has been your favourite on the tour?
I have to say Derby because it’s my home town and they make an enormous fuss of me in Derby because I know everybody and they know me. Otherwise I would say Mold because we weren’t expecting the reaction that we had there.
Which do you prefer between an old theatre or the newer build theatres?
I like either, as far as the set for the play is concerned this theatre [Wolverhampton Grand] has a lovely big stage and plenty of space which makes a difference. The dressing room’s quite nice too!
What’s it like working with Don Warrington and Ian Porter?
Oh they’re both a joy to work with, we all get on very well and I’ve worked with Ian before. Ian understudied the role of Boolie in the West End and he’s solid as a rock.
After all these years treading the boards and appearing on screen, do you still get nervous? If so how do you handle the nerves?
I do still get nervous, I just take a few deep breaths and try not to think about it too much.
Do you agree that it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t get nervous?
Well that’s what people say, but it would be nice not to, but I don’t mind if I do because it’s an exciting job and a responsible job. Especially in theatre where the audience have paid their money. Television I don’t tend to, except when there’s an audience if you’re filming a sit com, but even then I don’t worry because I know it can be re-taken. I used to pride myself on not making mistakes, though.
What advice have you got for anyone who wants to become an actor?
I wouldn’t give advice, if you’ve got to do it you’ll do it and if you’re tough enough you’ll get on, if you’re not you’ll get hurt. It’s such a strange business and breaking into it is strange. I was 30 when I started out, though so there is time for people. Ideally I suppose write your own play, put it on and get people to come and see it – although I don’t really know what the answer is.
It’s a difficult business because you don’t know where your next job is coming from?
There’s that and it’s difficult if you’ve got family. There was a Northern Irish actor who worked with Graham (Graham Reid – Gwen’s husband who is a playwright) in his plays and came one day and said he was going to give it up because he couldn’t tell his two daughters when they could go on holiday the next year. He misses acting but at least he can tell his girls when they can go away on holiday.
With Wolverhampton being the final stop for ‘Daisy’, have you got anything in the pipeline after the tour has ended?
‘Butterfly Lion’ again in the autumn, I’m down to do a 14 week tour of that. Also Graham has a new play opening in Belfast at the Lyric Theatre on 1st May, it’s called ‘Love, Billy’.
Do you still enjoy touring?
I do although it is tiring, but I wouldn’t do it without Graham. It also depends on the part though. Of course it’s lovely to be able to play a role close to home, but I wouldn’t go in the West End just for the sake of being close to home.
Would you go back to ‘Coronation Street’ if they asked you?
Well they did say would you be available again and I said I’d love to go back but only if there was a good storyline, otherwise I don’t really see a reason for the character to return.
Thanks to Gwen for talking to us, please see Garry’s review of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and look out for the tour of ‘Butterfly Lion’ which opens in Colchester at Mercury Theatre on 5th September 2013. Also watch out for Graham Reid’s play ‘Love, Billy’ and visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk for information and to book tickets.
First Published 12.04.13